In honor of the NCAA basketball tournament---and in disdain for all business jargon, buzzwords, clichés, euphemisms and grammatical catastrophes---lifwynnfoundation.org recently hosted its second-annual Jargon Madness competition. The tourney-style bracket featured 32 of corporate America’s most insufferable expressions, and readers voted for the worst of the bunch.
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This year’s winner: Come To Jesus Moment---as in, “If Joe doesn’t improve his productivity, he and I are going to have a Come To Jesus Moment.”
CTJM edged out onboarding---ridiculous jargon for "training new recruits"---in the championship bout. Frankly, how onboarding managed to beat punch a puppy---which means “to do something for which you will be detested"---is one of life’s great mysteries.
Click here to see the 2013 Jargon Madness bracket.
Boiling an ocean of slang down to 32 contenders---not including “boil the ocean,” slang for tackling too much work at once---was no easy task. We took suggestions and scoured the Web; our own pet peeves may have crept in, too. Acronyms were excluded, mainly because there are too damn many.
Religious overtones aside, perhaps the reason Come To Jesus Moment is such an annoying expression is our collective insistence on having these dramatic confrontations in the first place.
CTJMs, we understand, are all about focus, clarity, intention and gravity---in other words, the very stuff that, if consistently mustered, would wipe CTJMs from the schedule.
In dependable list fashion, here then are five ways you can avoid Come To Jesus Moments---and by “you” I mean everyone from seasoned entrepreneurs to the recently onboarded.
1. Establish milestones. Goals are abstractions without a plan, and plans are made up of smaller, snowballing achievements. Define, track, and yes, celebrate them.
2. Embrace conflict. This doesn’t mean pick fights; it means don’t run from meaningful disagreements along the way. Rest assured that if everyone had the same ideas, they wouldn’t be any good; likewise, if everyone had the same personality, we’d all be bored to sobs.
3. Define priorities. Say you just read 50 tips for improving your golf swing. Try all 50 at once and you’d be so in knots that you"d miss the ball altogether. Better to pick three or four really important tips, groove them, and improve from there. The same goes for running a business. (Tip for managers: Be consistent. If the "priorities" are constantly changing, the rank and file will tune you out.)
4. Avoid surprises. A bit of unexpected good news now and then is fine. Otherwise, anticipate all outcomes, estimate their probabilities, and clearly communicate those odds. (This goes for leaders and minions alike.) Too many bad surprises create uncertainty and, eventually, a sense of dread, like February in Chicago.
5. Finish The Job. You know when you’re done.
My early pick for this year’s Jargon Madness winner was thought leadership, a stomach-souring stalwart. Reader Paula Cohen captured it best by sharing this poignant comment during last year’s competition:
If I hear the phrase ‘thought leader’ one more time, I’m going to slug the person who says it.
I was attending a large telephone conference a couple of years ago, when I was working for one of the world’s largest outplacement firms. The regional manager, on the phone from another state, asked why our downsized clients appreciated us. Fool that I am, I answered: ‘Because we’re here for them. Because we give them back their pride, their self-esteem, and their identities, a place to come every day, a place where they’re not alone, and where other people understand what they’re going through, because they’re going through it, too. Because we teach them what they need to know, and give them hope.’
She practically exploded through the phone at me. ‘THAT’S NOT WHY THEY APPRECIATE US!’ (Everyone else in the room was looking down at their nails, or staring up at the ceiling…) She went on to say, ‘THEY APPRECIATE US BECAUSE WE’RE THOUGHT LEADERS!!’ If she had been in the room at the time, I would have barfed on her shoes.
Thought leaders? And I thought it was because we held the heads of drowning people above water…
Alas, like my Duke Blue Devils, thought leadership only made it to the Elite Eight this year (see the Jargon Madness bracket here).
As always: Have thoughts, be a leader, and many thanks again for your votes and comments.
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Have suggestions for the most annoying business jargon, buzzword, cliché, euphemism or grammatical catastrophe? Share them by posting a comment and we’ll consider adding them to next year’s Jargon Madness bracket.